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Report 1947: The Dordogne

By Winnick from Texas, Spring 2011

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Page 7 of 19: June 19 - Martel, Turenne & Sarlat-la-Caneda

photo by Mike Winnick

Sarlat La Caneda - Place de la Liberte

We left Rocamadour after breakfast. This was a relaxing day. Lot's of time to get to our apartment in Sarlat so we picked two of TMBVF's to visit. One thing about GPS, it doesn't pick big roads like we would, it picks decent ones, sometimes really small ones, that get you where you said you wanted to go, but without a map to look at you would wonder where the heck it was taking you. Like yesterday, into Collonges, we were on an almost dirt road, with just enough room for our car, that finally exited us out into a side street of the village, like magic.

We have two GPSes. Our Garmin, who I'll call Mr. Garmin, and the one that came with our car, a Peugot that they upgraded us to since they ran out of what we reserved, called Bridget, after Bridget Jones in the movie of the name BJ's Diary, since she talks British to us and, better than Garmin, she says, "Turn here!" right at the exact spot in the middle of the intersection where you have to turn when she wants you to turn. They both though are within seconds and meters of the route to follow.

Sometimes we override their advice because we want to just travel on a real road rather than some paved one, even if a good one, that is no wider than a car and a half and twists and turns as you plow through some forest.

Our first stop today was Martel. This was a small village, another medieval one, where Henry Plantagenet, who couldn't stand the sight of his wife, Eleanor of Aquitanine, shut her up in a tower (the story goes on like a soap opera, too long for a blog, so just Google it if you want to know more). This place has interesting 12C to 14C architecture. We spent an hour there traipsing around and then left for Turenne.

Turenne has an upper and lower town, with the upper devoted to its castle, long gone, and remains of 11C and 13C towers. Back on the lower town we stopped after walking a bit and had lunch at a small square in what was a very quaint and quiet location. We then returned to the car and headed for Sarlat-la-Caneda just an hour away.

This was an easy drive, though we did have to find the travel agency we were renting the apartment from. Plus it was Sunday and everyone was out but they left the phone number to call. Phillipe came within minutes, showed us where everything was on the map then walked us to the apartment, which is gorgeous. We moved our car to a free car park and settled into the apartment. It was nice to be staying put in one place for awhile. Moving from hotel to hotel gets real tiring.

The center of Sarlat is a gem, with wide streets and twisting alleyways everywhere. There are large and small squares with exceptional examples of architecture from the 13th to the 17th centuries. We walked around the town which is just the right size with great shopping and tons of restaurants. We had dinner at one of the many to choose from on a cute little square. The food has been great and we're even enjoying the duck which is their specialty here.

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